Oh, Real Simple. Your cover stories on laundry, your strange editor’s letters about Sheryl Sandberg, and photo spreads featuring not-real-simple $400 linen pants have been forgiven. The March issue features a fabulous interview with Kat Cole, the 36-year-old president of Cinnabon (a billion dollar company). How did Cole rise so high so fast? Maybe it’s insights like this, the answer to the question of what’s something surprising she’s learned:
“Rarely do people question success in the same way they do failure. That’s a mistake. When you fail, the lessons smack you in the face. But you might misdiagnose the things that drive success. I learned that from running restaurants. People would say, ‘That manager is so great. His restaurant’s up in sales 50 percent,’ when really he’s a bad manager and they’re just located on a street with a new strip mall. You can reward the wrong behaviors and duplicate the wrong things if you don’t dig deep behind success.”
I love this. There are a lot of smart, hard-working people out there. Sometimes they’re in situations where they shine, and they look even more brilliant. Then they wind up in situations that no one can solve (please see my Fast Company post on the new Marissa Mayer book — and the problem with the great man/woman theory of change in business). It is easy to misdiagnose success as being the result of how brilliant and awesome you are. But if you truly want to replicate success in different circumstances, then it might behoove you to consider additional possibilities as well.
I’ve been thinking about that as I figure out the publicity strategy for I Know How She Does It. My short ebook, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, was by far my swiftest-selling book. I think it’s readable and motivational, but I think 168 Hours is better written. It is not that I became a more brilliant and fabulous guru of time management in the interim. It’s that the later product has a much better, clickable title, had a more impulse purchase level price, and benefited from prominent excerpting in a publication with an audience that’s very engaged on social media. I don’t have much control over pricing, but I do on the other factors. That’s why the back-and-forth over titling was so important.
Have you ever misdiagnosed success?
In other news: Speaking of 168 Hours being better written, I came across this fun review of the book from Hello Best Life: “Has there ever been a book in your life that you were destined to read? … This book spoke to me. I wanted to hug it and lovingly stroke its pages. I had an audiobook version so this was difficult.”
And while we’re on the topic of my books that I like better than What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, my novel, The Cortlandt Boys, could use some more reviews on Amazon. If you read it, would you please consider writing a short review? Two sentences is all that’s necessary. Thanks so much — I really appreciate the favor.